Livingstone council doesn't deserve $2m rate compensation
THE region's federal member has hit back at comments made by Senator Pauline Hanson and Livingstone mayor Bill Ludwig about the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion's impact on the region.
The Australian Defence Department is acquiring farm land in the Shoalwater Bay area, north of Rockhampton, as part of an expansion of the military training area and a $2billion deal with the Singapore Government to provide more training options in Queensland.
Issues have been raised in the past few years regarding the impact of this expansion on Livingstone Shire Council rates, Marlborough businesses and school, and Stanage Bay businesses.
One Nation Party leader Senator Hanson wrote a letter to the current Defence Minister in July raising the issues again, and proposing something to help the Marlborough businesses - highway billboards.
She received a response this month which she and Mayor Ludwig commented on yesterday.
READ THAT STORY HERE: Defence Minister says no to Hanson's requests to help CQ
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said Mayor Ludwig and Senator Hanson claim Livingstone Shire Council will lose $2million per year in rates, but no formal estimate had been sent to Defence.
"I have been advised that Defence has not been formally provided an estimate of the potential loss of rates revenue from the Livingstone Shire Council and therefore cannot comment on this assessment,” she said.
"The Commonwealth's position is that it does not pay rates on its estate, including for Defence training areas and under Section 93 of the Local Government Act 2009 (Qld), land that is occupied by the State or a government entity is exempt from paying rates.”
Ms Landry said when Defence does use council maintained roads, they contribute to LSC for the upkeep and maintenance of roads used by the Australian Defence Force.
"Since 2001, Defence has contributed over $10million to Livingstone Shire Council and Rockhampton Regional Council through upkeep and maintenance payments,” she said.
"Defence is currently working with Livingstone Shire Council to establish a long-term agreement on roads.
"The Commonwealth holds about 25 per cent of land in the Livingstone Shire. The Defence estate is not serviced by council as other rateable land might be. Where Defence requires services from a local council, it will do so on a pay-for-service arrangement.
"The expansion of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area will see a reduction in the number of properties that need to be serviced by the Livingstone Shire Council once the training area is established.”
Ms Landry said the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area will have immediate positive effects to the region.
"Defence training activities inject funds directly into local economies, benefiting a wide range of businesses.
"In 2017, major exercises such as an Exercise Talisman Sabre injected in the order of $5million into the local economy.
"For the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative, the current projections of the yearly annual expenditure in local communities in Queensland by Singapore Armed Forces would be in the order of about $70million when the initiative is at maturity.
"Collectively, the ASMTI and Shoalwater Bay Training Area Remediation Project will see in the order of $900million invested in the Capricorn region.
"The $135million remediation project will provide critical infrastructure upgrades to support joint and multinational training activities, including amphibious training and is subject to Parliamentary approval.
"Sixteen local companies have already been contracted for engineering, geotechnical and surveying services in the design phase of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area expansion. To date, this has seen about $4million injected into the local economy.”
Ms Landry has secured over $100million in funding for infrastructure and other projects in Livingstone including $21.6million towards upgrades to Stanage Bay Road.